Gulp! I’m going to confess. No, it’s too embarrassing. Yes, I’m going to.
I’m of Donald Trump’s generation.
It’s like admitting to Europeans that I’m from the country that elected Trump. Until he became president, I was not ashamed of being an American or of being a septuagenarian.
Contrary to the fact that we old people (and I deliberately use the word “old”) defy stereotypes, they persist. Grandpa, who dominates the conversation at the Thanksgiving dinner table with harangues against gay marriage and immigrants. Aunt Helen, who can’t follow a train of thought and free associates her way through every conversation. Media often portray us as narrow-minded and critical. We’ve lost our mental acuity and wouldn’t know how to run a lemonade stand.
Donald Trump perpetuates such stereotypes.
Most of the people I know, who are my age, are thoughtful. They read books with multi-syllabic words and complex sentences. The books cover topics like climate change and history and politics. Retirees I know take classes at area universities; they don’t let their minds become stagnant. If pensions and mobility allow, they travel with Road Scholar and return home knowledgeable about distant countries. They do not mock other people and cultures. They do not abandon peers forced to live solely on Social Security or on minimum wage, but volunteer for Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, and the local food bank.
Trump’s presidency, on the other hand, contributes to negative images of aging.
And I resent it.
Nancy Werking Poling is author of Before It Was Legal: a black-white marriage (1945-1987) and Had Eve Come First and Jonah Been a Woman.